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NO WORK THE HARDEST WORK.
Go on! go on! no guerdon seek
For thy reward ;
And constant eye
Leads up to light:
This strife with wrong
XXVI. NO WORK THE HARDEST WORK. “ MANUAL labour is a blessing and a dignity. But to state the case on its least favourable issue, admit it were both a disgrace and a curse, would a true man desire to escape it for himself and leave the curse to fall on other men? Certainly not. The generous soldier fronts death, and charges in the cannon's mouth; it is a coward who lingers behind. If labour were hateful, as the proud would have us believe, then they who bear its burthens, and feed and clothe the human race, and fetch and carry for them, should be honoured as those have always been who defend society in war. If it be glorious, as the world fancies, to repel a human foe, how much more is he to be honoured who stands up when want comes upon us, like an armed man, and puts him to rout! One would fancy the world was mad when it bowed in reverence to those who, by superior cunning, possessed thomselves of the earnings of others, while it made wide the mouth and drew out the tongue at such as do the world's work. Without these,' said an ancient, cannot a city be inhabited, but they shall not be sought for in public council, nor sit high in the congregation; and those few men and women who are misnamed the world, in their wisdom have confirmed the saying. Thus they honour
those who sit in idleness and ease; they extol such as defend a state with arms, or those who collect in their hands the result of Asiatic or American industry, but pass by with contempt the men who rear corn and cattle, and weave and spin, and fish and build for the whole human race.
Yet if the state of labour were so hard and disgraceful as some fancy, the sluggard in fine raiment and that trim figure, which, like the lilies in the Scripture, neither toils nor spins, and yet is clothed in more glory than Solomon-would both bow down before colliers and farmers, and bless them as the benefactors of the race. Christianity has gone still farther, and makes a man's greatness consist in the amount of service he renders to the world. Certainly he is the most honourable who, by his head or his hand, does the greatest and best work for his race. The noblest soul the world ever saw appeared not in the ranks of the indolent, but took on him the form of a servant;' and when he washed his disciple's feet, meant something not very generally understood, perhaps, in the nineteenth century.”Theodore Parker.
Ho! ye who at the anvil toil,
And strike the sounding blow,
The sparks fly to and fro,
And fire's intenser glow-
And sweat the long day through,
To have no work to do.
Whose hard hands guide the plough,
With burning cheek and brow-
From olden time till now
And labour all day through,
To have no work to do.
Who ride the restless wave,
There lies a yawning grave,
Like fiends of fury rave-
And labour long hours through,
To have no work to do.
Ho! ye upon whose fever'd cheeks
The hectic glow is bright,
And half the weary night,
Champions of truth and right-
Even with this glorious view,
To have no work to do.
Ye wield a lofty power ;
Fill every golden hour!
Is man's most noble dower.
To your own souls be true!
C. F. ORNE.
“ Two men I honour and no third. First, the toil-worn craftsman that with earth-made implement laboriously conquers the earth and makes her man's. Venerable to me is the hard hand; crooked, coarse; wherein notwithstanding lies a cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of this planet. Venerable, too, is the rugged face all weather-tanned, besoiled, with its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a man living man-like. Oh, but the more venerable for thy rudeness, and even because we must pity as well as love thee! Hardly entreated brother! For us was thy back so bent, for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed: thou wert our conscript on whom the lot fell, and fighting our battles wert so marred. For in thee too lay a God-created form, but it was not to be unfolded; encrusted must it stand with the thick adhesions and defacements of labour; and thy body, like thy soul, was not to know freedom. Yet toil on, toil on: thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may; thou toilest for the altogether indispensable, daily bread.”
" A second man I honour, and still more highly, him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable—not daily bread, but the bread of life. Is not he, too, in his duty; endeavouring towards inward harmony; revealing this, by act or by word, through all his outward endeavours, be they high or low? Highest of all when his outward and his inward endeavour are one : when we can name him artist; not earthly craftsman only, but inspired thinker, who with
heaven-made implement conquers heaven for us ! If the poor and humble toil that we have food, must not the high and glorious toil for him in return that he have light, have guidance, freedom, immortality? These two, in all their degrees, I honour: all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth.”—Carlyle.
HEART of the people working men !
Marrow and nerve of human powers ;
Through streaming time this world of ours;
That ye are undismayed and strong,
May to the sons of earth belong.
The offices, or burthens fall;
Is lord and master of us all.
Must meet the morn with horse and hound;
Pursues afresh his wonted round.
With all his pomp of pleasure, he
Is but your working comrade now;
Might whistle at the loom or plough;
Of warm repose and careless joy,
He strives as active to destroy.
Sad sign of vigour overwrought-
Pleasure for pleasure's sake besought,
Her golden promise, if they knew
Who have no better work to do!
In closed room or shady nook,
With folded arms or open book :
To things now working in that mind,
Your children's children well may owe
'Till from his busy thoughts they flow.
For self or others, good or ill ;
Some fruit, be fallow as it will :
Where we deny the healthy seed,
Pasture and grain, or noisome weed.
Unenvious of each other's lot,-
Have travail which ye reckon not:
Who, from the task within his span,
R. M. MILNES.
XXVIII. MY OWN AGE!
“Man is timid and apologetic. He is no longer upright. He dares not say, 'I think,' 'I am,' but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose.
These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more ; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature in all moments alike. There is no time to it. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with riveted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tip-toe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”-R. W. Emerson.
My own age! my own age !
They say that thou art cold,
Than in the days of old.